Kristen Neff Ph.D www.selfcompassion.org is one of the world’s leading experts and researchers in Self Compassion. She tells us that Self Compassion includes
Self Kindness- being gentle with yourself
Recognizing your common humanity and connection to others and their experiences
Mindfulness – holding your experiences in awareness while neither ignoring or exaggerating them.
Why is it that you can often show more kindness and compassion to others than to yourself ? There are many myths that stand in the way of being more self compassionate.
One myth is that self compassion is a form of self pity. If I acknowledge that I am in pain either physically or emotionally, I will be feeling sorry for myself. In fact, the opposite is true. We know that if we try to acknowledge and accept difficult feelings with kindness and acceptance ,we can actually let go of them more fully.
Another myth is that self compassion means weakness. When you go through any difficult life challenge, being compassionate towards yourself actually helps you become more resilient and able to cope. You don’t have to beat yourself up to develop the emotional muscle to cope with difficulty.
Another myth is that self compassion will make you less motivated and prevent you from doing what’s needed. “If I don’t push myself, I won’t move forward.” Support and love go a lot further than punishment when you want to change behavior.
You might worry that self compassion is being narcissistic. Self compassion is not the same as self esteem. Self esteem is based on when you compare yourself to others while self compassion is not a judgment at all. RelatIng to yourself with acceptance and kindness when you fail or feel inadequate is what self compassion is all about. Compassion is not related to how well you perform, how good you look or how you measure up to others but caring for yourself in either good or bad times .
Finally, self compassion is not selfish. When you are stuck in criticizing yourself, you have little space to truly focus on others and their needs. My favorite quote for self care is “You must deposit money in the emotional bank if you are going to be able to make any withdrawals.” You can’t really give to others when you are depleted and empty.
Medical science also shows us that the behavior and attitude of self compassion is good for your physical health. Research indicates that when you direct compassion towards yourself or others, oxytocin ( the tend and befriend hormone) is produced and cortisol is reduced (the stress hormone) Our bodies, mind and spirit need self compassion for healing.
Will you at least try the next time you are being critical of yourself, to imagine how your best friend might treat you in the same situation? As Louise Hay said in her book, “You Can Heal Your Life”
“ Remember you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try appreciating yourself and see what happens”.